In THQ’s de Blob, agents of the INKT corporation have taken over the city of Chroma, and leeched it and its inhabitants of all color. Not to fear, though. The resistance forces have a new hero: a big squishy blob!
As the titular blob, you will roll around all of Chroma, redecorating buildings and leaving a splotchy trail of paint as you go.
The color revolution in de Blob is fought block to block, neighborhood to neighborhood, as one would expect in urban warfare. To complete a block, you will need to score a certain number of points and reach the level exit before your timer runs out.
However, there are higher rewards at stake for achieving more than the bare minimum for completion. In a nod to ideological purity, you are awarded a red star for completing all of the “resistance missions” available in a given block. ‘Resistance’ leaders, identified by blinking magenta circles, are stationed around each block. They assign you tasks when you bump into them.
Unfortunately, the game does not use this conceit to introduce much in the way of level specific challenges, instead relying on a repetitive series of point-to-point time-limited dashes, attack missions, and painting tasks. The developers wait until the very last level to use this mission system to advance the plot of the game. It’s a lost opportunity.
To go about painting stuff and defeating INKT, you need to move the blob around. In the default mode, you use the touch screen to direct your movement: the blob basically follows your finger around. The farther you move your finger towards the edge of the screen, the faster you move. In tilt mode, you control the blob by tilting your iPhone and making it roll accordingly. Tilt mode lets you move by touch as well, which allows for maximum flexibility of control.
Both of these schemes are flawed. In the purely touch-based control, your guiding finger tends to get in the way, obscuring potential enemies. By contrast, the tilt approach provides a clear field of view, but lacks precision, and can lead to viewing angle difficulties. To the developer’s credit, calibration and sensitivity controls are provided for the tilt mode, but no combination of settings produced satisfactory results.
The manner in which your blob interacts with the paint globes scattered around each level is much more satisfying. The basic primary colors are all present: red, blue, and yellow. These paints act just like they did back in preschool finger-painting, allowing you to mix up a full rainbow of colors. This comes in handy, because you are often required to use particular colors to paint certain buildings. You are also awarded bonus points for particularly colorful paint jobs.
De Blob is not just an extreme city makeover, however. You are also fighting INKT’s forces of greyscale. As you approach an INKT agent, a new control appears at the bottom of the screen, which will command the blob to attack. Tap the attack button and the blob will jump into the air, squashing the INKT agent with a satisfying splat.
If, however, the INKT agent gets to you first, you will be covered with a color-absorbing sludge, which robs anything you’ve previously painted of color and takes away your points. In this case, you must find your way to a water pool to wash off the slime of failure. These encounters can be quite frustrating, due to the game’s generally sloppy controls. In addition, INKT agents will sometimes appear to be open to an attack, but are in fact blocked by the edge of a building. Your blob will leap to attack, but jump right into harm’s way.
On the plus side, De Blob has a very strong presentation, highlighted by its consistently impressive art direction. The cheerful results of your haphazard painting across the city’s canvas are something to behold. Squishing enemies under your blob is also genuinely fun, and it produces some delightful sound effects. The included music is catchy, but you can’t provide your own soundtrack from your iPod.
To summarize, de Blob is a pretty uneven experience. The story seems incomplete and poorly integrated with the levels, which are themselves extremely repetitive. This damages the game’s replay value; yes, you can go back and try to collect all the stars, but you won’t really want to. Younger gamers or very casual gamers will likely enjoy this game more than others, but we can’t recommend it to a wider audience.